In addition to checking on the CCRCGP pandas, sometimes I like to see other important pandas when I travel to China.*
Due to her failing health, it seemed the right time to visit Ba Si in Fuzhou.
In 1984, the bamboo in Baoxing province flowered and died. A local woman saw a small panda being chased by a dog into the river. The panda was then stranded on the side of a raging, icy river. With the help of a family member she tied a rope around her waist and waded in to the ice cold water of the BaSi River. She reached the scared panda and brought it to shore. She then called local authorities to alert them about the skinny sick panda.
Dr. Tang Chungxiang of CCRCGP went to Baoxing to retrieve the starving panda. The panda was named Ba Si after the river she was found in.
Dr. Tang took her to the Wolong panda base to recover. She was estimated to be about 4 years old at the time, so she was likely born in 1980. At Wolong she was nursed back to health.
After 1 1/2 years at Wolong she visited the US and was then transferred to Fuzhou, where she has lived ever since.
BaSi has survived cataract surgery and several bouts of severe illness, thanks to Dr. Xui, Dr. Chen and her keepers.
Ba Si developed a very special relationship with one of her keeper, Ms Shi Fening.
Unfortunately, Ms. Shi Fening died suddenly in March of this year. Ms. Shi had worked at the Fuzhou panda base for over 20 years and with Ba Si exclusively for the past 6 years.
Ba Si who turned 35 in November, is currently in failing health, with high blood pressure and arthritis. She is totally blind, and very slow but can still go outside by following the sounds her keeper makes banging on a bowl. BaSi is adapting to the loss of Ms. Shi Fening.
Ba Si is basically in Hospice care at this time. Keepers and Dr. Xui are doing what they can to make Ba Si as comfortable as possible and monitor her quality of life so she doesn’t suffer. She eats a large bowl of ground food with milk each morning, but it takes her over 30 minutes to finish.
It was a pleasure to meet BaSi, at the end of her long life.
Pandas International has made a donation for Ms Shi Fening’s daughter to purchase school supplies for the fall semester. Her daughter is obviously still having a very hard time with her grief.
In Fuzhou, if some one is Beautiful they say she is very BaSi.
*Suzanne covers her own travel expenses when traveling to China, no PI funds are ever used for her travel.